How to Recognize Depression Symptom Differences in Teen Boys and Girls

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For teenagers, navigating the world can prove difficult and confusing. Finding a sense of self, establishing a peer group, and dealing with hormonal and body changes all contribute to ups and downs. Yet for teens dealing with depression, symptoms go beyond the usual struggles. Only one out of every five teenagers suffering from depression actually gets help due to their inability to recognize the symptoms, which is why parental involvement is key. Although boys and girls suffer from similar symptoms, there are notable differences. If you are concerned your teen may be depressed, read on to recognize warning signs and how gender plays a role.

According to the Mayo Clinic, red flags for depression in male and female teens include emotional changes ranging from sadness, loss of interest in activities, conflict with family and friends, to difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things. Parents may notice changes in appetite or sleep and unexplained physical complaints. More extreme signs include risky behavior, such as drug or alcohol use, self-harm, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Depression Symptoms in Teenage Girls

Group Of High School Students Running Along CorridorAlthough depression strikes both boys and girls, girls are more than twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with a mood disorder by the age of 15. According to WebMD, one in 10 girls are depressed. In one study, depression among girls was found to have caused stronger feelings of guilt, self-blame, failure, and even negative body image. Teen girls are also more susceptible to health problems as a result of depression than boys.

Depressed girls tend to withdraw themselves from family and friends, cry frequently, and show changes in sleeping patterns. They might lose or gain weight or develop eating disorders. Depressed girls may express their despair by self-mutilating, cutting or burning themselves. They may become promiscuous or repeatedly practice unsafe sex. Depressed girls often suffer from low self-esteem, struggle to concentrate on activities, and lack motivation. Depression in girls also tends to lead to feelings of hopelessness about the future.

Depression Symptoms in Teenage Boys

For boys with depression, some symptoms differ. Depressed boys show higher rates of depressed morning mood and morning fatigue. Instead of withdrawing, teenage boys may exhibit overt physical and emotional changes. “Teenage males tend to act out and get in trouble or may appear more irritable,” explains adolescent expert Mike Dow, PsyD, on Everyday Health.

While girls self-harm in far greater numbers, troubled boys cut or burn themselves as well. But boys are more likely to go beyond this, putting themselves in openly dangerous situations. They fight other boys or hurt themselves in aggressive ways like punching a wall, according to Lucie Russell of the mental health charity YoungMinds.

For teens and young adults between ages 15 and 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death. The alarming difference: four times more males die from suicide than females, even though more suicide attempts are made by females.

How Will Your Teenager Respond to Your Concerns?

group of young friends on top of the mountainWhile girls often respond to talking and exploring feelings with a parent or trusted friend, boys may be more receptive to activity-based work rather than an emphasis on their feelings and emotions, says Rachel Welch, director of selfharmUK. Providing a male counselor or teacher for a teen boy to relate to can help, as well.

If you are concerned your teenage son or daughter is suffering from depression, take the next step—contact High Focus Centers. For more information on how High Focus Centers can help your teen reclaim their health and happiness, call (800) 877-3628.